Williams, No. 8 seed Heels focused on Villanova
Posted March 19, 2013
Updated March 20, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said Tuesday that his Tar Heels, an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament, will be looking to build on the late-season improvements that propelled them to the ACC Tournament title game when they face Villanova Friday evening.
"I'm not satisfied, because you always want more," Williams told Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9 FM The Fan. "My players want more. We expected them to improve through the season, and that happened. We want more out of them."
Williams and his staff switched up UNC's lineup Feb. 13 against Duke, making sophomore P.J. Hairston a starter four days after falling to then-No. 8 Miami 87-61 in south Florida. 2016 NCAA men's interactive bracket
The change in philosophy – playing a smaller lineup that included just one traditional big man in James Michael McAdoo – paid off, as the Tar Heels (24-10) won eight of their last 10 games.
"What I wanted to do was get our five best basketball players on the court," Williams said Tuesday. "Putting in P.J. gave us more scoring and more outside to spread the defense to help Dexter Strickland and James Michael McAdoo."
The lineup change was especially beneficial for Strickland, who averaged 8.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in the six-game UNC win streak that started with a 93-81 win over Virginia Feb. 16. Williams: We hope we can keep improving
Hairston's numbers were also better, improving from 12.2 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game in the 21 games before the switch to 18.1 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game in the 11 that came after it. His minutes also increased from 19 to 30 per game.
By the time the Tar Heels arrived in Greensboro for the 60th ACC Tournament, they were playing their best basketball.
"I've loved coaching this team," Williams said. "Trying to do something differently than we've done before. Successful coaches play the same way all the time. Changing styles is hard for coaches."
North Carolina's NCAA Tournament opponent, No. 9 seed Villanova, also had a season of improvement after the Wildcats missed the tourney a season ago.
The Wildcats moved into NCAA tournament contention in January with back-to-back victories over Louisville and Syracuse. Louisville was ranked fifth and Syracuse third at the time of those games.
A North Carolina victory would set up a possible Sunday matchup with No. 1 seed Kansas, which faces No. 16 seed Western Kentucky on Thursday.
Despite his history with Kansas, Williams, who coached the Jayhawks from 1988-2003, said the Tar Heels aren't thinking at all about the third round.
"We're focused on Villanova. If we go out thinking about something other than Villanova, we'll be heading back home," Williams said.